Navigating the “Labyrinth of the War on Perception”
At long last! A partnership which we could call a milestone, indeed, for the Philippine National Police as well as the Armed Forces of the Philippines, and a clear intent of the players in the whole-of-nation/government approach espaused by President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr.
The 37 graduates were ceremoniously presented on December 13, 2022 at the Audio-Visual Room of the PNP Museum and Gallery in Camp BGen Rafael T. Crame, Quezon City. Leading them was Police Major General Eric E. Noble, currently the Commandant of the Philippine National Police Academy. Others were PBGen Jonathan A. Cabal, Executive Officer of the Directorate for the Police Community Relations (DPCR), PBGen. Ponce Rogelio I. Peñones, Jr., District Director of the Northern Police District; PCol Rogelio P. Simon, Deputy Director for Administration of the Police Community Affairs and Department Group (PCADG); and PCol. Jean S. Fajardo, PNP Spokesperson; PCol Marvin Joe C. Saro, Chief of Staff, PCADG. Following them and coming from different offices were PCol Esmeraldo P. Osia, Jr., PCol Jackson G. Seguin, Police Lieutenant Colonels Denver A. Alidao, Jaime N. Barredo, Jr., Christine R. Bagundol, Nieves A. Dela Peña, Efren L. Fernandez II, Rodrigo B. Galino, Glenda S. Lim, Kathleen P. Lumbag, Felipe B. Maraggun, Alexis M. Manzano, Zaldy K. Abellera, and Charlie T. Vete. Also pronounced graduate were Police Majors Rex P. Chiday, Albert A. Bacal, Kris Albin B. Gonzales and Jerico L. Redon. Also, Police Lieutenants Marcel R. Ladaga, Nomer B. Macaraig, Ruthie Q. Daraman, Jose Rey R. Serrona, and Romel T. Sumalinog; and Police Staff Sergeants Ermilinda G. Cacliong, Grace V. Baubog, Jasmin C. ____, Emmanuel R. Tabuena, Jr. Rejan James A. Samapayan; Police Corporals Romulo Cleve M. Ortenero, Jedalyn A. Mondiging, Mark Angelo M. Serrano, Patrolwoman Darice Anne M. Regis, and NUP Perlita P. Herminado.
Thirty-nine CMO graduates of a special course, the Civil Affairs Course, that is actually a part of the joint training package that the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) enhanced during the stint of the current Deputy Chief PNP for Administration PLtGen. Rhodel O. Sermonia as Director of PCADG formerly the Police Community Relations Group.
Aptly representating Chief PNP Rodolfo S. Azurin, Jr., was PltGen. Sermonia, the Officer-in-Charge of PNP at that time, allow us to quote several statements from his speech.
The “levelling approach” involving sharing of knowledge and skills, and the training to create a functional pool of Civil Affairs and PCAD operators who are most capable in handling the crucial and emerging requisites for the successful grassroots operationalization of the objectives of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict or ELCAC, especially in countering white area operations, were judiciously reviewed and discussed by Gen. Sermonia and classmate in the Philippine Military Academy “Makatao” Class of 1989, Army Major General Ernesto “Jun” Torres, Jr., Gen. Torres then was CMO Commander.
In the said course, the graduates have been made familiar and conversant to two classic components of Civil Affairs, the Civil Relation (CIVREL) and Civil Action (CIVAC), and on how these can be used to serve the objectives of ELCAC. The strategic objective of Civil Relation is to establish cooperation and collaboration between the State security forces – the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police – and the civilian institutions and organizations’ stakeholders. Civil Relations are the tactical interventions and ground mobilization initiated by the military and/or the police with developmental and sociological purposes.
For Civil Affairs and PCAD operators, their activities for CIVREL are focused on building honest-to-goodness alliances and partnerships; while on CIVAC, they render medical and dental services, humanitarian assistance, environmental protection and even engineer capability assistance. Both may be proactive or reactive, gradually creating a beautiful backdrop that spells sensitivity and intentness which could ultimately build a maund or hill of trust and confidence for PNP on the part of all stakeholders.
Addressing armed conflicts that disturb peace and order necessitates state security forces to flex their brawn and tickle their brains to fully support the AFP’s overall/countrywide Civil Affairs’ very own CIVREL and CIVAC initiatives. Speaking of PNP, we have set the Retooled Community Support Program Countering White Area Operations, where we have initiated the Kabataan Kontra Droga at Terrorismo (KKDAT), and the Joint Industrial Peace Concerns Office (JIPCO) respectfully to rally the youth to support government’s program against their radicalization, the students and academe; and the industry and economic players to ultimately build alliances for the prevention and radicalization of students and the preservation of industrial peace and prevent the radicalization of the labor force. Relative to CIVAC programs, PNP has the Barangayanihan and KaligKasan programs that bring services practically at the very doorstep of the community.
The key to all these is the “buy-in” of the target sector. When we navigate the labyrinth of the war on perception, efforts must be geared on our capabilities to comprehend the way narratives of the enemies-of-the-state, whether these are expressed or implied. In developing counter-narratives, the graduates – our PCAD operators, must be sensitive to issues and the “heat factor” that these enemies use to exploit to be able to thrust their propaganda.
A no-no are the unpalatable statements which are laden with empty promises and pronouncements. These have been proven ineffective. “Buy-ins” are effective if our messages are packaged in such ways that they form benefit statements, well-meaning and are palpable to the senses. In short, “people buy narratives” that are sincere, benefit-driven, cooptational, involving all the stakeholders, indeed a model KASIMBAYANAN network.
President “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. explores avenues in making good the Localized Peace Process with the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) local commanders. Initiated relative to this are the Localized Peace Engagements in Iloilo Province. Here, CMO and PCAD operators must be on deck in order to gain traction client stakeholders’ buy-in.
The CMO counterparts who put in their undivided attention and support to the graduates were LtCol Genesis R. Gabrido and Capt Mark Vincent J. Ching.